Statement from CEO Ceri Harnden on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30th, 2021 marked Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As a country, as part of the Child and Youth Mental Health sector and as an organization, it was an important moment for us to acknowledge the history of the residential schools, and to further accept our role in these systems of oppression; honoring the children lost and those who survived, and acknowledging the multi-generational trauma that existed and continues to impact Indigenous children, youth, families and communities to this day.
As an organization, EveryMind continues to be committed to reflecting, to learning, and to carrying out change. By example, our 2021-22 Annual Report, for the first time, included our organizational Land Acknowledgement statement. Further to this, having had the opportunity to experience how the Land Acknowledgement was living within our organization, we decided a revision was required to make it more robust and representative of our organization’s responsibility and commitment to change. This initiative was led by EveryMind’s Indigenous Knowledge Committee, who developed an assessment and selection process which included: a review of community statements; input and engagement by EveryMind staff through an organization survey; and, activities held during an in-person staff event in June and subsequent staff session which took place on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st.
EveryMind’s new Land Acknowledgment statement was introduced in July 2022. Organizationally, opportunities for staff to lead with the Land Acknowledgment and to share personal reflection are provided, so that we can learn from one another and practice our responsibility and commitment, as expressed in our Land Acknowledgement statement:
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Land that has been inhabited and cared for by Indigenous Peoples from the beginning. I acknowledge the land on which we work is the territory of the Anishinabek, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples; and Metis, all who continue to care for this land today.
Together, we have a responsibility to consider what it means to acknowledge the history and legacy of colonialism and recognize that these difficult histories persist in present-day racial realities and privileges at EveryMind. As service providers, we are committed to learning how we can support the de-colonization of child and youth mental health services.
EveryMind, over the past year, has dedicated time to looking both inward and outward to inform our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion vision and strategy, developing key priority areas for action. With the support of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee and sub-committees, we continue our commitment to learning and to providing opportunities to raise awareness, increase knowledge, and develop new skills. We are well positioned to systematically advance change initiatives that will further weave equity, diversity and inclusion into our culture and organizational fabric as we continue to focus on our Mission.
Today, we once again come together to honor the 2nd annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, assembling through an organizational lunch and learn, providing the opportunity for group discussion and reflection about the 94 Calls To Action, and opportunity to gather recommendations for action and collective impact as an organization.
EveryMind acknowledges that the actions are but small steps. That said, author Mike Glenn’s words ring true in that we believe that “big visions are realized through small steps”.
Chief Executive Officer, EveryMind Mental Health Services